A book with beautiful illustrations plus an engaging story line makes for a great reading experience. Picture books are not just for kids, they are great for adults too (but, if you feel odd about reading a picture book in public find a kid to share it with). Here are some of my beloved picture books:
Pet Show by Ezra Jack Keats
This book was published in the seventies, yet I always liked the bold paint strokes and textures of this book. The story tells of a boy named Archie who is searching for his cat in order to win a ribbon in the pet show. All of his friends have a pet and his cat is no where to be found. So, Archie brings a glass jar in which he has his pet germ named Al locked inside. It is a fun and sweet read, as well as a book that has remained on my bookshelf to this day.
Mr Gumpy’s Motor Car by John Burningham
This is an export from the United Kingdom and the illustrations nicely depict the English setting. In this story Mr Gumpy sets out for a ride in his motor car. Before he can make it down the lane he hears the call of the freeloaders (the children, the rabbit, the cat, the dog, the pig, the sheep, the chickens, the calf and the goat) wanting to hop in the car to join in the ride. In the climax of the story, the motor car gets stuck in the mud and when Mr Gumpy asks the freeloaders to get out of the car and push no one wants to help. Eventually, everyone gets out to help, they make it up the hill, and return back home. I like this book because of its simple message of teamwork and adorable drawings. Children will adore this book.
Miss Nelson is Missing by James Marshall and illustrated by Harry Allard
Mom used to buy my brother and I lots of books on tape, this book was one of our favourites. This is the story of the kind and genteel teacher Miss Nelson and her misbehaving miscreant students. Miss Nelson does the old switcheroo and creates an alter ego, the witch like Miss Viola Swamp. She scares the pants off these kiddos and gets them to do work. When Miss Nelson returns the kids are grateful and treat her with the upmost respect. Marshall knows how to write with creative humour and the fun cartoon pictures pair nicely with the text.
Hippo, Potta and Muss by Barbara Softly and illustrated by Tony Veale
Did you know that the hippopotamus is one of the most dangerous animals in Africa. While that is not the main lesson in this story, as I reread the book that fact stuck with me. In this story three hippos named Hippo, Potta, and Muss (their mother clearly had a sense of humour) sneak away from their mom in sights of a new blue pool in which to swim. Following the advice of a toucan, they find a lovely blue sea. After playing on the beach they want to cool off in the water. When they jumped into the salty sea it makes them cough so hard the boats are overturned and they wake the sleeping beach bums. The hippos manage to escape the angry mob by grabbing hold of the toucan’s tail and they fly back home to their mom. Shockingly, the illustrator of this book only used three colours (blue, yellow and green) and he is able to tie the hilarity of the story nicely with his drawings. This is a great book to read with youngsters who are just learning their colours as well as to work on predictions and inferences.
Hold on there… part two is coming soon!